Hit by flee­ing car, dragged 120m

Kapiti Observer - - FRONT PAGE - JOEL MAXWELL

The stolen car came up on them like a freight train, dragged them 120 me­tres up a Levin street like a toy and spun them back­wards.

Now a Porirua cou­ple want to know how a po­lice pur­suit that wrote off their car and left them ter­ri­fied was al­lowed to hap­pen.

Kevin and Carolyn Higgs were in the front seats of their Honda CRV when a stolen car blasted through red traf­fic lights on Ox­ford St in Levin shortly be­fore 9pm on Satur­day night, slam­ming into them.

They say po­lice, hot in pur­suit, sim­ply drove past their dam­aged ve­hi­cle.

Po­lice say the pur­suit prob­a­bly pre­vented an even more se­ri­ous crash from hap­pen­ing.

Carolyn Higgs said the car, driven by her hus­band, turned on to Ox­ford St from Queen St West about 8.50pm. Her brother Robert Gay­lard, of Levin, was in the back seat.

‘‘I turned round and I said to Kev, ‘I can hear a freight train com­ing’. And the next minute we were slammed into.’’

They had been hit by a Holden four by four, stolen from Wainuiomata then tracked by po­lice as it drove north. The pur­suit started on the Ka¯piti Coast.

The im­pact was so heavy it spun the Higgs’ CRV like a toy and dragged it about 120m up the road to the in­ter­sec­tion at Stan­ley St.

‘‘I said to Kev, ‘what the f... is hap­pen­ing’, and he says ‘I don’t know’. Then all I re­mem­ber is 50 mil­lion bloody cop cars scream­ing past us.’’

Kevin Higgs said he felt the im­pact then ‘‘saw grey’’. The grey was the roof of his car - the im­pact broke his seat and he was left dazed and star­ing up at the roof in­te­rior.

In the back, Gay­lard was left with whiplash. His glasses were found later by his niece on Ox­ford St. Kevin Higgs said he was breath tested by po­lice at the scene.

The car’s oc­cu­pants want to know why po­lice never stopped to help, and why the chase was even al­lowed to reach cen­tral Levin. Wit­nesses es­ti­mated the stolen ve­hi­cle was trav­el­ling over 100kmh in a 50kmh zone on Ox­ford St, they said.

The three teenage oc­cu­pants of the stolen car were caught when the spiked ve­hi­cle hit a po­lice car at low speed at the north­ern end of Ox­ford St.

Carolyn Higgs said she did not nec­es­sar­ily think po­lice should have aban­doned the pur­suit, but given the length of the chase they should have stopped the car on the open road be­fore it reached Levin.

In­spec­tor Paul Jermy said the flee­ing car was stolen from Moores Val­ley Rd in Wainuiomata shortly be­fore 6pm.

Pub­lic safety was the pri­or­ity for of­fi­cers, with ‘‘very care­ful’’ con­sid­er­a­tion given to when and where they de­ploy road spikes, he said.

‘‘With the in­for­ma­tion in front of us, po­lice are con­fi­dent the ac­tions of its staff ... pre­vented a more se­ri­ous crash.’’

A lo­cal sergeant, not in­volved in the pur­suit, was im­me­di­ately sent to at­tend the sep­a­rate crash, Jermy said.

‘‘We wish to re­as­sure the peo­ple in the other ve­hi­cle that po­lice were fully aware that they had be­come vic­tims and that po­lice re­sponded ac­cord­ingly.’’

JOEL MAXWELL/STUFF

Kevin Higgs, wife Carolyn Higgs and her brother Robert Gay­lard, who sur­vived a col­li­sion with a stolen car be­ing chased by po­lice. Above, their dam­aged Honda.

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